A 360-degree Approach to Weight Management With Natural Ingredients

Are you overweight or obese? If so, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. obesity prevalence is 41.9 percent.1 But what constitutes obesity? The CDC indicates that an adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, while an adult who has a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or higher is considered obese. In case you didn’t know, BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms (or pounds) divided by the square of height in meters (or feet). A high BMI can indicate high body fatness.

Furthermore, contrary to popular perception, being overweight or obese is not simply an issue of calories in/calories out—in other words, a balance between how many calories you eat and how many you burn up. While there is truth in the calories in/calories out statement, it is also a gross oversimplification. There are many variables including your genetic predisposition toward weight gain, and your metabolic tendency to store and burn fat. For this reason, a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss is ineffective. The good news is that, in addition to diet and exercise, there are dietary supplements that can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight based upon individual needs.

Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, there is no “magic weight loss pill.” This includes medications like semaglutide (e.g. Ozempic) which has been shown to help reduce appetite and promote weight loss, but are associated with common side effects including nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting and constipation.2 Medications are never harmless. Bottom line is that you can’t drink soda, eat potato chips and lay on the couch while watching TV and expect to lose weight safely and effectively just because you took a pill. Rather, a well-rounded 360-degree approach that includes diet and exercise must accompany the use of the right dietary supplements for your specific needs—including the need to avoid significant side effects. This may involve natural, science-based dietary supplements for appetite control, enzyme inhibition, detoxification, microbiome modulation, water elimination and fat binding.

Appetite Control

For many people appetite control/satiety is one of the biggest challenges in trying to lose weight. Carob, Opuntia cladodes, and the combination of the two may help.


Two randomized trials3 were conducted to determine the glycemic index (GI) of a carob snack compared with chocolate cookie containing equal amounts of available carbohydrates and to compare the effects of a carob versus chocolate cookie preload consumed as snack before a meal on satiety and postprandial glycemic response. Results were that the carob snack (but not chocolate snack) led to increased satiety, lower calorie intake at meal, and decreased postmeal glycemic response possibly due to its low GI value.

In another study,4 healthy volunteers ingested 500 mL of carob bean gum (0.25, 0.5, 1.0 or 1.5 g/100 g), non-nutrient, liquid meals of varying viscosities. Results were that satiety increased with initial meal viscosity, whereas that for hunger decreased (P < 0.05). In conclusion, increased viscosity is associated with more prolonged satiety.

Opuntia cladodes (nopal)

Opuntia cacti are found in prolific abundance in arid regions of the world. The fleshy stems (paddles or nopals) have been a staple vegetable in many parts of Latin America. Opuntia cladodes are a source of dietary fiber. Opuntia has also been touted to be a plant-origin substitute of chitosan, which has gained credence as low calorie, food ingredient with ability to bring satiety.5 Researchers have suggested that Opuntia might also be useful in tackling weight issues and obesity since it possesses similar properties.6

Carob and Opuntia Patent Pending Combination

As previously demonstrated in one of the carob studies, increased viscosity is associated with more prolonged satiety. This is consistent with the journal Scientific Reports which states, “texture and viscosity are the keys to feeling full, satisfied and has an impact on total daily calorie intake.”7 The combination based on carob and Opuntia cladodes (as Carolean) has been shown to have an exponential increase in viscosity compared to the individual ingredients.

In conditions mimicking the ingestion (temperature, pH), this combination showed a superior kinetic reaching the satiety culmination quicker when compared to recognized market standards. In addition, 15 minutes after ingestion, already 70 percent of the viscosity was reached which optimizes the satiety effect more rapidly. After 80 minutes, the combination was released allowing optimized digestion and no digestive discomfort.8

Enzyme Inhibition

Fat and carbohydrates are caloric sources that contribute to weight gain. Before fat and carbohydrate calories can be absorbed, the foods providing them must first be digested to provide component triglycerides and sugars, respectively. This requires lipase (i.e., fat-digesting) and amylase (i.e., carbohydrate-digesting) enzymes.

Ascophyllum nodosum

A marine brown seaweed called Ascophyllum nodosum (commercially available as ID-alG) contains active molecules known as phlorotannins, which were shown to inhibit lipase and amylase enzymes in-vitro. Likewise, an in-vivo study with rats showed that this seaweed extract decreased body weight and triglyceride levels significantly in comparison to positive control rats who were given white kidney bean extract, phaseolamine (a compound found in white kidney bean), both of which were shown to inhibit amylase.9

While these in-vitro and rat studies are promising, what is more significant is that human research has demonstrated efficacy for weight loss. A 16-week, bicentric, randomized, parallel double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study10 was conducted to confirm the benefit and tolerability of Ascophyllum nodosum (as ID-alG, 200 mg at both lunch and dinner) for weight reduction in 88 overweight and moderately obese women. Results showed a very strong trend (p<0.051) for the benefit of ID-alG compared to placebo was observed in overweight subjects. The advanced statistical analysis of the cohort identified two interesting sub-groups: a “good responders” group composed of women with a BMI between 25 and 32 and a “best responders” group composed of women aged 45+ with 25 ≤ BMI ≤32. In the overweight to lower range obese subjects called “good responders”, a statistically significant (p<0.01) difference after 16 weeks of intervention in the ID-alG group compared to the placebo group was observed for the parameters body weight, fat mass and waist, hip and thigh circumference, respectively. In the overweight to lower range obese subjects of middle age (45-65 years old) called “best responders,” a statistically significant (p<0.01) difference after 16 weeks of intervention in the ID-alG group compared to the placebo group was observed for all benefit parameters analyzed. It should be noted that clinical results highlighted unique weight management benefits of ID-alG for overweight women and more specifically for 45 years and over: decrease of fat assimilation, lowering body fat mass and abdominal and visceral fat. The clinical laboratory evaluation as well as the global assessment of the tolerability also demonstrated an excellent adverse events profile of ID-alG.


While we can all agree that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is highly desirable and is associated with a reduced risk of health problems and mortality,4 what many people do not know is that there can also be a serious consequence of successful weight loss—namely a significant influx of potentially harmful toxic chemicals into the bloodstream. The cause of this influx is the release of fat-soluble toxins heretofore stored in adipose tissue and released in the lipolysis of long-term weight loss.5 To be clear, this is not an argument against weight loss. Rather it is an argument in favor of supporting our body’s detoxification process concurrently with weight loss.

Clove and Immortelle

There are different ways to support detoxification. One way is to promote antioxidant defenses and detoxifying enzymes in liver cells, also known as the Nrf2/ARE pathway. Two herbs which can help achieve this are Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)11 and Immortelle (Helichrysum italicum), traditionally used in Europe in floral infusions for liver health.12,13 A combination of these two herbs is commercially available as Hepure, and has been shown to be more effective than either herb alone in direct antioxidant activity and Nrf2/ARE expression in hepatocyte (liver) cells.14

Microbiome Modulation

According to Christian Diener, PhD, a research scientist at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Washington, “Your gut microbiome can help or cause resistance to weight loss and this opens up the possibility to try to alter the gut microbiome to impact weight loss.”15 This is consistent with other published research16 indicating that gut microbiome diversity may be a mediator between obesity and health outcomes, and other research17 showing that dietary alteration of the gut microbiome is an important target in the treatment of obesity.

In particular, Akkermansia muciniphila is a species of beneficial bacteria found in the human gut microbiota. Numerous studies have shown that in case of obesity, its proportion is greatly reduced. Conversely, A. muciniphila interventions have shown a beneficial impact on fat mass and metabolic markers.18,19

Grape Polyphenols

The two primary ways to modulate the gut microbiome are through the use of probiotics and prebiotics. In the case of prebiotics, the most well known of these are long-chain carbohydrates like FOS, XOS and GOS. However, there is a body of research20 demonstrating that plant polyphenols have a prebiotic effect. In fact, the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics has officially recognized polyphenols as prebiotics.21

A five-week in-vivo mouse study22 on intestinal mucosa markers and fecal microbiota in induced gut dysbiosis conditions demonstrated that consumption of a high concentration of grape polyphenols (commercially known as VinOgrape Plus) resulted meaningful differences in the microbiota composition over a control group. Specifically, it increased the abundance of A. muciniphila. The equivalent dose in humans is 600 mg.

Water Elimination

From time to time, it is not unusual for the body to retain excess water, causing bloating and weight gain. The prevalence of water weight or edema among older adults in the U.S. is approximately 19 percent to 20 percent.23 If this is a chronic situation, you should see your doctor since it may be a symptom of a more serious condition. Conversely, water retention may be associated with a menstrual cycle, over consumption of salt at a meal, or have some other non-serious cause. In these situations, prickly pear fruit extract (Opuntia ficus indica) may help bring relief due to its diuretic properties.

Prickly Pear Fruit Extract

In a study24 on rats, a prickly pear fruit extract (commercially known as Cactinea) was shown to significantly increase urine volume in comparison with the control group as well as showing a trend to significantly reduce the body weight gain. More importantly, clinical research in humans has shown similar results. In a 28-day, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel double-blind study,25 49 women received 2 g of Cactinea or placebo daily. Results were that the Cactinea group experienced a progressive water mass reduction, and weight loss thanks to a combined action on both water mass and fat mass. Other research26 showed similar results regarding general diuretic activity and a reduction in the sensation of swelling (feet, ankles, calves), and heavy legs.

Fat Binding

While enzyme inhibition is an effective method for reducing the absorption of fat, another complementary method is fat-binding. In this method, a substance attaches or binds to fat, rendering it incapable of being fully digested and absorbed. Two such effective fat binders are Opuntia ficus-indica fiber and okra.

Opuntia ficus-indica fiber

The cactus Opuntia ficus-indica has a unique composition of fibers (commercially available as patented Neopuntia), with half being soluble fibers (hydrophilic) and half insoluble (lipophilic). This unique composition allows Opuntia ficus-indica fiber to effectively bind with fats.27

In a double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study,28 10 healthy volunteers were randomly divided into two groups. The study volunteers consumed 1.6 g of Opuntia ficus-indica fiber with each meal or placebo in the form of a capsule for one week while following a strict diet of standardized meals in order to carefully control the consumption of lipids. Following the first week of testing, there was a seven-day washout period without any product before introduction of the next seven-day testing period during which the Opuntia group received the placebo and vice-versa. The results were that, on average, the Opuntia group excreted 27.4 percent more fat compared with the placebo. No side effects, or discomfort were observed.


Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is one of the oldest cultivated crops grown in many countries and contains a highly viscous polysaccharide mucilage capable of acting as a binder.29 Commercially available as Okralin, this patented material binds with fat, and then forms a gel which is too large to be digested.

In a 12-week, double-blind, randomized, three arms, placebo controlled clinical study,30 108 men and women received two capsules, three times a day (1,320 mg/d = low dose) Okralin, 2,640 mg/d = high dose) Okralin, or placebo 15 minutes after a meal. The diet consisted of 20 percent reduced calories compared to normal intake. The results were that people using the high dose of Okralin lost more than 11 lbs, with significant results after only four weeks. In fact, 89 percent of subjects lost at least 3 percent of their initial body weight, and 60 percent of subjects lost at least 5 percent of their initial body weight. The highest amount of weight lost was 15 lbs.

In addition, people using the high dose of Okralin lost seven pounds of fat mass with significant results after only four weeks. Likewise, people using the high dose of Okralin experienced a 1.6-inch reduction of waist circumference and a 1.7-inch reduction of hip circumference—with up to two pant sizes lost. Furthermore, Okralin had very good safety parameters, and there was no reported discomfort and no impact on fat soluble vitamins.


A one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss is ineffective. Rather, a well-rounded 360-degree approach that includes diet and exercise accompanied by the use of the right dietary supplements for your specific needs is appropriate. This may involve dietary supplements for appetite control (Carolean), enzyme inhibition (ID-alG), detoxification (Hepure), microbiome modulation (VinOgrape Plus), water elimination (Cacti-Nea), and fat binding (Neopuntia and Okralin). Each of these trademarked extracts are available through Nexira. VR


1 Overweigh & Obesity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last Reviewed: September 21, 2023. Retrieved November 24, 2023 from www.cdc.gov/obesity/index.html.

2 www.ozempic.com/how-to-take/side-effects.html.

3 Papakonstantinou E, Orfanakos N, Farajian P, Kapetanakou AE, Makariti IP, Grivokostopoulos N, Ha MA, Skandamis PN. Short-term effects of a low glycemic index carob-containing snack on energy intake, satiety, and glycemic response in normal-weight, healthy adults: Results from two randomized trials. Nutrition. 2017 Oct;42:12-19.

4 Marciani L, Gowland PA, Spiller RC, Manoj P, Moore RJ, Young P, Al-Sahab S, Bush D, Wright J, Fillery-Travis AJ. Gastric response to increased meal viscosity assessed by echo-planar magnetic resonance imaging in humans. J Nutr. 2000 Jan;130(1):122-7.

5 Qinna NA, Akayleh FT, Al-Remawi MM, Kamona BS, Taha H, Badwan AA. Evaluation of a functional food preparation based on chitosan as a meal replacement diet. J Funct Food. 2013;5:1125-34.

6 Patel S. Opuntia Cladodes (nopal): Emerging Functional Food and Dietary Supplement. Med J Nutrition Metab. 2014; 7:11-19. 7 Stribiţcaia E, Evans CEL, Gibbons C, Blundell J, Sarkar A. Food texture influences on satiety: systematic review and meta-analysis. Sci Rep. 2020 Jul 31;10(1):12929.

8 Carolean. Feelings of satiety, naturally. Nov 2023. Nexira.

9 Terpend K, Bisson JF, Le Gall C, Linares E. Effects of ID-alGTM on weight management and body fat mass in high-fat-fed rats. Phytother Res. 2012; 26(5):727-3.

10 Evaluation of the benefit and tolerability of ID-alGTM for weight reduction in overweight and moderately obese female subjects. Unpublished. Nexira; 2016: 28 pgs.

11 Kazi S, Abbasi P, Arain AA. Syzygium aromaticum: A Potential Hepatoprotective Agent. JSZMC 2016;7(2):956-959.

12 Benitez G, Gonzalez-Tejero MR, Molero-Mesa J. Pharmaceutical ethnobotany in the western part of Granada province (southern Spain): ethnopharmacological synthesis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010; 129: 87-105.

13 Redzić SS. The ecological aspect of ethnobotany and ethnopharmacology of population in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Coll Antropol. 2007 Sep;31(3):869-90.

14 Hepure Clean & Care. Nexira. N.d.

15 Gut Microbiota Influences the Ability to Lose Weight. American Society for Microbiology. September 14, 2021. Retrieved November 27, 2023 from percentE2 percent80 percent9CYour percent20gut percent20microbiome percent20can percent20help,Systems percent20Biology percent20in percent20Seattle percent2C percent20Washington.

16 Koutoukidis DA, Jebb SA, Zimmerman M, Otunla A, Henry JA, Ferrey A, Schofield E, Kinton J, Aveyard P, Marchesi JR. The association of weight loss with changes in the gut microbiota diversity, composition, and intestinal permeability: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Gut Microbes. 2022 Jan-Dec;14(1):2020068.

17 John GK, Wang L, Nanavati J, Twose C, Singh R, Mullin G. Dietary Alteration of the Gut Microbiome and Its Impact on Weight and Fat Mass: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Genes (Basel). 2018 Mar 16;9(3):167.

18 Cani PD, Depommier C, Derrien M, Everard A, de Vos WM. Akkermansia muciniphila: paradigm for next-generation beneficial microorganisms. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2022 Oct;19(10):625-637.

19 Plovier H, Cani P. Akkermansia muciniphila, une bactérie pour lutter contre le syndrome métabolique. Médecine/sciences. 2017; 33: 373-92.

20 Plamada D, Vodnar DC. Polyphenols-Gut Microbiota Interrelationship: A Transition to a New Generation of Prebiotics. Nutrients. 2021 Dec 28;14(1):137.

21 Gibson GR, Hutkins R, Sanders ME, Prescott SL, Reimer RA, Salminen SJ, et al., 2017. Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 14(8):491-502.

22 Vergnolle N, et al. Effects of Nexira compounds as prebiotic treatments on intestinal mucosa markers in mild colitis. Nexira via Purpan Hospital, Toulouse, France. August 22, 2022. 119 pgs.

23 Besharat S, Grol-Prokopczyk H, Gao S, Feng C, Akwaa F, Gewandter JS. Peripheral edema: A common and persistent health problem for older Americans. PLoS One. 2021 Dec 16;16(12):e0260742.

24 Bisson JF, Daubié S, Hidalgo S, Guillemet D, Linarés E. Diuretic and antioxidant effects of Cacti-Nea, a dehydrated water extract from prickly pear fruit, in rats. Phytother Res. 2010 Apr;24(4):587-94.

25 Bio Serae Laboratories SA. Evaluation of Cacti-Nea’s diuretic effect in women showing water retention: Monocentric, randomized, placebo controlled, in parallel double-blind format. July 2009. 23 pgs.

26 Nexira Health MKT. Clinical evaluation of the diuretic effect of Cacti-Nea 2010. December 2010: 15 pgs.

27 Smeets-Peeters MJE, Minekus M. Fat binding capacity of NeOpuntia during passage through a dynamic gastrointestinal model.” Presented at VitaFoods May 2001.

28 Pilot clinical study of NeOpuntia on fat binding. Presented at Annual Conference on Weight Loss Ingredients Paris. SFA May 2004.

29 Dantas TL, Alonso Buriti FC, Florentino ER. Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.) as a Potential Functional Food Source of Mucilage and Bioactive Compounds with Technological Applications and Health Benefits. Plants (Basel). 2021 Aug 16;10(8):1683.

30 Uebelhack R, Seibt S, Bothe G. Double-blind, randomized, three-armed, placebo-controlled, clinical investigation to evaluate the benefit and tolerability of two dosages of IQP-AE-103 in reducing body weight in overweight and moderately obese subjects. InQpharm Europe Ltd., Invision House, Wilbury Way, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, SG4 0TY, UK. 11th April 2018: 175 pgs.

Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, Professor Emiritus of Nutraceutical Science, is a nutritionist, herbalist, writer and educator. For more than 40 years he has educated and trained natural product retailers and health care professionals, has researched and formulated natural products for dozens of dietary supplement companies, and has written articles on nutrition, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals and integrative health issues for trade, consumer magazines and peer-reviewed publications. He can be reached at eugenejbruno@gmail.com.

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